Filipino American History Month

For the 2023 theme, the Filipino American National History Society (FANHS, a Seattle-based organization) has chosen 1898: Recognizing 125 years of Philippine-American history in recognition of 125 years since the signing of the Treaty of Paris by Spain and the U.S. The treaty led to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines and an access route to America for Filipino nationals who wanted to become American citizens that would have broad implications for future Filipino diasporas. 

Filipino American History Month is the acknowledgement and celebration of the contributions, culture, and history of Filipino Americans since their arrival upon Spanish ships in Morro Bay, California on October 18th, 1587.

During the time of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, from 1565 (when the Philippines became a colony of Spain) to 1815, Filipino seafarers worked under the Spanish Navy to bring goods across the Pacific from Manila in the Philippines to Alcapulco in Mexico; The galleon arrived to America 33 years before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. Arriving in Morro Bay was unintentional as the crew upon the galleon Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza were searching for Acapulco, Mexico. Due to conflicts with the resident Native Americans in Morro Bay after the crew of Luzones Indios (Natives of Luzon, as the Filipinos of the time were referred to) and Spaniards attempted to claim the land for Spain, they departed and continued their voyage.

In 1898, the Philippines declared independence from Spain, however it was short lived as the Spanish-American war was concluded by the Treaty of Paris which declared the Philippines a United States colony. The Philippines gained lasting independence from the US on July 4th, 1946. In the early 1900s Filipino Americans would find themselves back in California, as many migrated for work; Filipino Americans in California are the 3rd largest ethnic group in the state. Southern California is the most populated Filipino-American region of the entire country.

Filipino-Americans played an instrumental role in the fight for Agricultural Workers rights through the establishment of the United Farm Workers (UFW) of America labor union. in the 1960s with activists like Larry Itliong working alongside Mexican-American activists such as Ceaser Chaves and Dolores Huertes. Filipino-American History month was established in 1992 by  Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova and Dr. Fred Cordova of the Filipino American National Historical Society but was not recognized by the U.S. Congress until 2009. The celebration takes place in October as it is Larry Itliong’s birth month as well as the month the first Filipinos landed in America. The first celebration of FAHM took place in 2015 by President Obama.

Filipino American History Month was celebrated in the United States for the first time in 1992 and since has been commemorated through activities and events to highlight the significant role Filipino people have played in American History as well as to celebrate their rich culture.